The holidays are officially over. As everyone knows, it’s a time to be jolly, to be naughty, or in my case… to be just darn toooo nice. If there is one resolution I should make for the new year, it’s to shed some of my gentillesse—my niceness that gets me into a good deal of trouble… and just happens to be the naughty instigator of the latest misadventures of La Tigresse. Jump into Santa’s sleigh! It’s across the world to the west coast we go!
Twas the week before Christmas, and I was frantically riffling through my clothes in an attempt to pack. A difficult task as my suitcase was already half full with presents, at least my festive tops would help protect the several bottles of precious wine my bag also contained. It was probably during this mayhem that I received the following invitation email from my eldest brother:
Hey there, I got you a seat for my work Christmas party. Free food and drink. It will be M. and me and Chuck and you. We hope you can come.
Skimming over the message, my eyes retained the key words “free food and drink” and so I hastily responded an enthusiastic oui! and returned to my frantic packing.
Arriving très fatigued from my epic half-way around the world journey, it didn’t take long for my mother to snicker, “So I hear you’re Chuck’s date for the Christmas party.” Chuck? What date?! Vague memories of my brother’s email filtered into my jet-lagged mind. But wasn’t it supposed to be a group thing?! Chuck was a colleague of my brother. While he was a nice guy, he was also pushing 50 and appeared to be stuck in the mid-eighties (à la Chuck Norris, hence his nickname here). Going on “a date” in this city was far from my mind… and accepting to go out with anyone like Chuck was even further out at sea! I had to bottom of this murky situation…
“No, you’re not really Chuck’s date… He was going to be going alone, so it would have been a shame not to use up his second space.” Replied my brother rather fishily (did he have a hidden agenda of getting more free drinks something out of the deal?). I hesitantly accepted his story. Mom, on the other hand, was still quite suspicious. Nevertheless, it was too late, the Christmas party was that night, I couldn’t really pull out of it now.
The evening started off fine. My brother’s wife M. sat me next to her so I was safe from any advances from Chuck. Nearing the end of dinner, Chuck offered to buy me another glass of wine, I probably shouldn’t have accepted… that was a “date” sort of thing to do, plus when he brought it back to the table he slyly moved his chair next to mine. Yikes! I took a big gulp of my wine and tried to edge closer to M. Though it seemed like Chuck was only harmlessly chatting with us, he did touch my arm a few times and call me “dear.” Was he actually flirting with me??
At the end of the party Chuck was going to drive us home, however, I wasn’t totally in the clear. Chuck unfortunately lived around the corner from my mother, so he dropped my brother and M. off first… leaving me alone with him for approximately 7.2567 slow minutes. I did my best to babble on with enough distracting banter to get us the few blocks home. While this might have been a good distraction for me, my banal questions about the Chuck’s plans for over the holidays might have given him the wrong impression. We finally arrived… the stress of trying to make enough cheerful small talk to get through the short drive must have caused my brain to malfunction because rather than saying a quick good-bye as I jumped out of his jeep, I lent over and kissed him on the cheek… like I normally bid people farewell in France. As I kissed the first cheek, I knew this had been a fatal mistake. I bumbled out something like “Oh this how they say good-bye in France,” yet it was too late. What had I done! Panic stricken, I then managed the “quick wave and jumping out of his vehicle” escape, not giving him a chance to react.
Okay, okay, no need to over-react, I tried to tell myself. All I had to do was avoid him for the rest of my trip. That couldn’t be too difficult, could it? For several days, I laid low at my mom’s, sweating it out. But after the third day, I needed to get out, I thus emailed my brother suggesting we get together.
“Why don’t you come over tonight?” He offered. Perfect. Or so it seemed…
“Be careful,” advised intuitive mom. “Chuck is always over at your brother’s.”
What?? Ugh! I couldn’t risk going there without a plan. It shouldn’t be too hard, I’d recently met a fabulous international man of mystery, all I needed to do was as soon as possible slip this into the conversation. Then Chuck would surely leave me alone… right?
Things weren’t looking good when my brother emailed me at the end of the afternoon saying that Chuck would be picking me up, oh jeez… it was either go along with Chuck or opt for the 45 minute walk over there in the torrential coastal rain. It was only 7.2567 minutes, I could survive, then I would divulge my perfect guy story once at my brother’s.
Just before Chuck was due to arrive I got a third email from him asking us to pick him up some Lucky beer at the neighborhood shop. This wouldn’t be so lucky for me… announcing my brother’s request to Chuck, he sped off in the other direction, to take us to the real beer store, where the “Lucky” would be much cheaper, which turned out to be a high price for me to pay. We drove and drove. Where was this store?? At this point I would have paid triple for the stupid beer just to get us there faster. Carefree banter was getting harder and harder and took a turn for the worse.
“So are we still on for Music Bingo on Saturday night?” asked Chuck. Music Bingo?? (full details here.) I’d complete forgotten. There’d been some random talk at the Christmas party about going to this Music Bingo thing. I had no idea what it was, but seeing as my social possibilities in this town where either hanging out with my mom or my brother, I must have said I would go… also thinking that it was a group event and that my brother and M. would be attending too! That’s not really how Chuck was perceiving things, a little Saturday Night Fever?! No way!
Luckily and finally right about then we arrived at my brother’s place. I was ready to blurt out my “new perfect guy get out of jail card” as soon as I could, yet the game was being played out it a very different way. That night just so happened to be the date of the end of the Mayan calendar… and we managed to stay caught in that theme the whoooole night, as if talking about it would make it not happen. How could I slip in that I was seeing someone? Could I invent that he was an expert in Mayan culture? Maybe declare that he’d been the exact person to decipher the calendar? Rest assured, this perfect expert in everything had told me the world wasn’t really going to end?? I anguished over my glasses of wine trying to find the perfect break in the conversation to insert a comment, but it never came.
Woe was completely me! However, I would not or count not succumb to despair. I just had to make it home safely, then cancel on the Music Bingo and I wouldn’t have to see him again.
Midnight stuck and the world hadn’t ended so off we went home. Could the Mayan gods protect me just a tiny bit longer? Just 7.2567 minutes? There we were driving along the ocean road, me babbling away about something stupid to make the time go by faster… 5.3921 minutes… 2.6832 minutes. We were getting nearer and nearer. I could see my mom’s street up ahead to the right. Then, out of nowhere, Chuck swerves to the left, parking facing the ocean. O.M.G.! What was he doing?? Was this … the make-out point???
Frenzied horror can only come close to describing what enveloped me. Did he really pull over here so he could try to put moves on… like we were on a high school date? My defense mechanisms heightened and I suddenly started sputtering out the most nonsensical chatter, I had to keep silence from allowing him to lean in for the kill. My body called on my arms to assist the verbal assault, waving around frantically in an attempt to prevent him for inching towards me. We were parked there for what seemed like an eternity (probably more like 5.4387 minutes) before he realized he wasn’t going to get lucky.
Relieved to be in front of my mom’s, I lied when he asked if I had his number to touch base about Saturday, there was no way on the Highway to Hell that I was going to Music Bingo with him, I just needed to get out of the car.
“I’m not surprised!” laughed my mom, as she heard my story the next day. She was not the only one to find humor in the story… immortalized by my other brother in the Elf Yourself video feature Chuck and I where the images for this post come from (disguising our identities with the eighties glasses).
Next Christmas, I think I’ll tell Santa, that I’ve been naughty, as being too darn nice seems to get me in even more trouble! Have a happy, lucky and especially naughty New Year!